Module Details

LW901-7-FY-CO: International Human Rights: Law, Institutions And Practice

Year: 2016/17
Department: Law (School of)
Essex credit: 30
ECTS credit: 15
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: No
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No
Outside Option: No

Supervisor: Dr Andrew Fagan
Teaching Staff: Professor Sheldon Leader, Professor Ahmed Shaheed, Professor Lorna McGregor, Professor Geoff Gilbert, Professor Noam Lubell, Dr Daragh Murray, Dr Andrew Fagan, Thoko Kaime & Jude Bueno de Mesquita
Contact details: School of Law, University of Essex, Telephone 01206 873069, email

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

This compulsory module aims to provide students with an analytical, critical and contextual introduction to international human rights law. It includes both international and regional norms, institutions and processes, as well as some issues arising from the national implementation of these norms. The course is designed to provide a solid legal foundation on the basis of which students will pursue their more specialised optional courses and human rights research.

While the scope and depth of the subject does not permit LW901 to cover all relevant issues, it aims to familiarise students with the major contemporary features and debates within international human rights law. Further, it provides students with an opportunity to develop their analytical skills in relation to the international law of human rights.

The module covers the United Nations machinery for the promotion and protection of human rights; the major global human rights treaties; the regional systems of Europe, the Americas and Africa; universality and cultural relativism; the right to life; the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; the prohibition of enforced disappearance; equality and non- discrimination; religious intolerance; freedom of expression; the protection of minorities; fair trial; economic, social and cultural rights; states of emergency and counter-terrorism, state responsibility; accountability of non-state actors; freedom of association; right to food; right to health; human rights and development and national implementation of human rights commitments.

In addition to the LW901 lectures or whole group sessions, the course includes Discussion Groups (DGs). The emphasis here is on your participation. DGs are designed to examine in more depth some of the issues arising from, or related to, the weekly lectures by way of role-plays or discussions. Students are placed in four Discussion Groups. Discussion Groups do not run every week so please check the dates when they run in the timetable of the module. There are a total of eight DGs during the year. This is also a compulsory element of LW901.

Learning and Teaching Methods

Lectures and discussion groups


100 per cent Exam Mark

Other details

The module is assessed by way of a 3 hour 15 minute unseen exam to be taken in May (date and time to be confirmed)

Exam Duration and Period

3:15 during Summer Examination period.

Other information

LW901, International Human Rights: Law, Institutions and Practice is assessed by way of an unseen written exam which will be scheduled for May (date and time will be confirmed at a later date)


  • Core Legal Texts (not in order of importance or quality)
  • Sheeran, S. and Rodley, N., Routledge Handbook on International Human Rights Law (Routledge, 2013)
  • Alston, P., and Goodman, R., International Human Rights (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013)
  • Krause, C., and Scheinin, M., International Protection of Human Rights: A Textbook (Turku, Abo Akademi University Institute for Human Rights, 2009)
  • Moeckli, D., Shah, S., and Sivakumaran, S., International Human Rights Law (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2010)
  • Weissbrodt, D. and De la Vega, C., International Human Rights Law: An Introduction (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007)
  • Kaelin, W., And Kunzli, J., The Law of International Human Rights Protection (New York, Oxford University Press, 2009)
  • Smith, R., Textbook on International Human Rights (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 5th edn, November 2011)
  • Nowak, M., Introduction to the International Human Rights Regime (The Netherlands, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2004)
  • Marks S., Clapham A, International Human Rights Lexicon (Oxford, Oxford University Press 2005) An online documentary companion to this book is available at:
  • Brownlie, I. and Goodwin-Gill, Brownlie's Documents on Human Rights, (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 6th edn, 2010)
  • Wider perspectives on international human rights law and international relations:
  • Oberleitner, G., Global Human Rights Institutions (Cambridge, Polity Press, 2007).
  • Boyle, K (ed) New Institutions for Human Rights Protection (Oxford University Press 2009)
  • Clapham, A., Human Rights Obligations on Non-State Actors (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2006).
  • Rodley, N. with Pollard M, The Treatment of Prisoners under International Law (Oxford University Press, 3rd edition 2009).
  • Baehr P, and Gordernker, L, The United Nations Reality and Ideal (Palgrave Macmillan, 4th edition, 2006)
  • Donelly, J., International Human Rights: Dilemmas in World Politics (Westview Press, 3rd edition, 2006).
  • Hannum, H., et al, International Human Rights Law: Problems of Law, Policy and Practice (Aspen publishers US, 4th edition, 2006).
  • Shelton, D., Remedies in International Human Rights Law (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2 ed, 2006).
  • Likosky, M., Law, Infrastructure and Human Rights (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006).
  • Douzinas, C., Human Rights and Empire (London, Cavendish publisher, 2007).
  • Goodale, M., and Engle Merry, S., The Practice of Human Rights (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2007).
  • Nowak, M., UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: CCPR Commentary (2 edition, Kehl and Rhein, Engel, 2005).
  • Ishay, M., The History of Human Rights: from Ancient Times to the Globalisation Era (Berkeley, University of California Press, 2008 with a new preface ).
  • Baxi, U., The Future of Human Rights (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 3rd edition, 2007).
  • Freeman M., Human Rights (Cambridge, Polity Press, 2nd Edition, 2011).
  • Ignatieff, M., Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry (NY, Princeton University Press, 2001).
  • Koskenniemi, M., The Gentle Civilizer of Nations: The Rise and Fall of International Law (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2001). This book contains a critical approach to the history of international law during the last century.
  • Charlesworth and Chinkin, The Boundaries of International Law: a Feminist Analysis, (Manchester, Juris Publishing, 2000).
  • Wilson, R. (ed), Human Rights, Culture and Context: Anthropological Perspectives (NY, Photo Press, 1997)

Further information